"I was on a mission from God."

COLUMNS

The Danville News

Robert John Andrews

Thursday, April 9, 2020

“Virus Road”

Word Count:  750

 

It was a tonic for my blue funk.  The Blue Meanies were after me again.  Yes, one of my coping mechanisms is to watch via VCR (yes, VCR) movies like the Beatle’s “Yellow Submarine.”  Within reach on my bookshelf I boast figurines from that animated delight:  Chief Blue Meanie, Old Fred, a Snapping Turtle-Turk, and George Harrison in his Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band uniform, with tuba. 

 

Yes, mine was a blue Saturday:  colorless, mopey, music muted, puttering, feeling bloody impotent.  I was at 20%, my wife contributing the extra 80%.  The best end up taking turns being encouraging.  She’s also wiser at switching off the dreadful drone of depressing TV news.  I guess I shouldn’t be tracking several times a day the reported total cases and deaths.  I also don’t do cooped up well.  There’s a restless reason I crave road trips.  So Sunday turned out to be a blessed tonic.  The tonic?   A drive to rendezvous with my nephew and brother-in-law at the Delaware Water Gap for vital family business, combined with taking a journalistic road trip to observe social effects of this virus.  I was on a mission from God.  I add here that all hygienic protocols were religiously upheld.  A doctor warned us about nurses, cleaners, food service workers, technicians, physicians laboring and risking on the front lines: “If we don’t cooperate, all their sacrifices will be in vain.” 

 

Driving through Bloomsburg, I didn’t see one University student.  Then I realized it was Sunday morning -- even without the virus I wouldn’t expect to see students.  Fascinating were the number of cars parked at those affordable motels along Route 11.  Each appeared two-thirds full.  Talk about being cooped up.  How do they cook?  Are they solo or families? 

 

Yes, imagining how others might be hurting makes me alert to how undeservedly fortunate I am.  First, I’m with someone special.  It makes me appreciate the small role I can play.  It makes me appreciate neighbors taking walks, saying, “Hi.”  Yes, appreciative of newspapers, postal carriers, grocery clerks and stockers, garbage collectors.  Luddite me, long wary of cell phones, is gradually appreciating how technology is aiding our ability to cope, even thrive, even contribute toward others (which, after all, is the name of the game). 

 

Busiest were the grocery store parking lots and fast food drive-through lanes.  Other shops and churches?  Not so much.  Empty lots.  Lights off.   It wasn’t as weird as when in 1972 I traveled around Belfast during the troubles, frisked by British soldiers, streets absent of pedestrians and cars, but it had a similar feel that the bottom had dropped out, a similar surreal feel.   ‘Surreal’ is an apt description.  How did this happen so abruptly?  Yet it has.  Yes, a month ago in my daily diary I was writing about meetings I attended or where we ate dinner or which church at which I was privileged to preach.  Now I’m dutifully recording this virus death count. 

 

Once I began heading east on Route 80, I noticed few passenger vehicles, very few bearing out-of-state plates, though I did spot several from New York and Jersey, one from Maryland.  Most on the road were trucks.   By my Sunday ratio, ten trucks for every passenger vehicle.   Only one rest area was open, that near Stroudsburg.  The one nearest Berwick had barriers erected.  Electric signs blinked advice:  Stay Home, Limit Travel, Practice Social Distancing (wrong, it should be Physical Distancing, we need the social).  In those stretches between towns, mine was the only car, excepting those trucks.  Spotted were several FedEx trucks, several Amazon Prime vans heading west.  Sheetz tank-trucks were common.  The parking lot of the shops at Crossings was utterly vacant.  Oddly, the only time I saw a police cruiser was in Bloomsburg.  Perhaps State Police saw me.  Since I drive the speed limit I never fret.  Although, I did wonder if I’d be stopped and politely advised to return.  Most of the intersection gas stations were open, but I wondered about mom and pop Diners that depended on travel trade.  At least our restaurants around here can make a buck on take-out. 

 

Somebody had nailed a crude, small sign on a tree.  It contained a painting of the US Flag accompanied by these pure words:  “Thank you truckers.”  Yes, thank you.  Never before had I realized how important an artery was Route 80.  All these roadways are arteries feeding us, keeping us safe.  This virus road is a highway of hope and promise. 

COLUMN ARCHIVE

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Thursday, January 9, 2020 

"The Political Calling"

"Money matters more."

Thursday, January 16, 2020 

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"Everyday heroes."

Thursday, January 23, 2020 

"Heroes"

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Thursday, January 30, 2020 

"Dissolutions"

"Poor, poor, pitiful me."

Thursday, February 6, 2020 

"Ministerium"

"Are there any guardrails left?"

Thursday, February 13, 2020 

"Guardrails"

"Sorry, it's inside us."

Thursday, February 20, 2020 

"Virus"

"Bad, Romans, bad!"

Thursday, February 27, 2020 

"Leap Day"

"We are our histories..."

Thursday, March 5, 2020 

"Generations"

"Stabilize a broken America first, then progress."

Thursday, March 12, 2020 

"Second Choice"

"What did Grandma counsel?"

Thursday, March 19, 2020 

"It Feels Different"

"Hows your Roundelay these days?"

Thursday, March 26, 2020 

"It Takes Effort"

"Every day is judgment day."

Thursday, April 2, 2020 

"Mom Was Right"

"I was on a misson from God."

Thursday, April 9, 2020 

"Virus Road"

"It never happened."

Thursday, December 26, 2019 

"The Vanishing"

"Designed for a purpose"

Thursday, January 2, 2020

"Why made?"

"Friendship is a bond of grace."

Thursday, December 19, 2019 

"King Jesus"

"The gaggle moved to the side."

Thursday, December 12, 2019 

"Walmart Zen"

"Provocateurs become healers."

Thursday, December 5, 2019 2019

"Political Signs"

"Cynics, hush!."

Thursday, 28 November 2019

"Thanksgiving Memories"

"If it's social media news, it's rot."

Thursday, 21 November 2019

"Fred Rogers"

"The smell of boy."

Thursday, 14 November 2019

"Young Blood"

"Good thing we have the purity of the Republicans."

Thursday, 7 November 2019

"A Friendly Feud"

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